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Gone Girl was filmed in Cape Girardeau and built the Big Apple in L.A.

Where was Gone Girl filmed? Filming Locations Explained

Classic 2014 mystery thriller Gone Girl starred Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in a twisted story of kidnapping and revenge, directed by David Fincher. Filmed in Cape Girardeau and its surrounding areas, and with New York being simulated on an L.A. soundstage, the film has become a great example of the mystery genre and is still referenced when speaking about similar affairs.

Table of Contents

Where was gone girl filmed, where is gone girl supposed to be set, where is the bridge in gone girl, what happened on the bridge.

Cape Girardeau

A quick look at m ovie-locations.com shows that  Gone Girl was filmed almost entirely in Cape Girardeau and surrounding areas. Cape Girardeau is situated in eastern Missouri along the border of Illinois. During the film’s credits, among the montage of shots, eagled-eyed location hunters will spot the town clock, and this is the actual town clock of Cape Girardeau, located downtown.

The bar, called “The Bar”, where Nick is often seen, is not far from the clock and was filmed on the corner of North Spanish Street, which used to be a business address called Socials Cafe and Catering. It appears that the business is now called Socials Cafe and Coffeehouse, and a look at their Facebook page shows a mouth-watering menu of home-cooked food and treats.

As well as the linear narrative, the film features flashbacks to New York, however, these scenes were not filmed in The Big Apple at all.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl | Image via 20th Century Fox

Los Angeles

The New York scenes were recorded on a sound studio located in LA. You can see that the scenes of the Dunnes leaving their city brownstone were filmed on the “New York City Street” which was purpose-built on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles and is used consistently for productions such as this.

Another scene of the couple in a bookshop was also recorded in LA, and not in New York. That particular location was a real store and could be found at 453 South Spring Street.

The film was set in the fictitious town of North Carthage, which was meant to be located in Missouri. However, it is reported that the writer of the novel, Gillian Flynn, was inspired by the real-life town of Cape Girardeau, and that is where most of the location work was done.

Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, used for filming Gone Girl

Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge | Image via American Institute of Steel Construction

The bridge that is often seen in the film is The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge. This style of bridge is called a cable-stayed bridge, and it is used for connecting Route 34 in Missouri with Illinois Route 34 and 74 with Illinois Route 146 across the Mississippi River between Cape Girardeau and East Cape Girardeau. The bridge was named after Bill Emerson, who was a politician in the area from 1981 until 1996 when he died. Bill served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Without spoiling too much of the twisted story, a key scene in the film happens on the bridge, and we see Amy, covered in blood, returning to Nick while being surrounded by the paparazzi, who are more than eager to capture the event as it happens.

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Article by Louie Fecou

Louie Fecou joined the Ready Steady Cut writing team back in August 2018 as an Entertainment Writer and, since then, has published over 1,000 articles for the site. Louie has proven experience in various publications, print and online. To kickstart his journalism career, in 2013, he was a columnist and writer for The Irvine Herald Newspaper.

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Home > Films > G > Gone Girl

Wednesday February 21st 2024

Gone Girl | 2014

Gone Girl film location: Cape Girardeau

  • Locations |
  • Los Angeles , California
  • David Fincher
  • Ben Affleck,
  • Rosamund Pike,
  • Neil Patrick Harris,
  • Kim Dickens,
  • Tyler Perry,
  • Carrie Coon,
  • Patrick Fugit,
  • Missi Pyle,
  • Lisa Banes,
  • Scoot McNairy

David Fincher turns Gillian Flynn ’s novel into a treat of a feelbad movie, with the horribly perfect married life of Nick and Amy Dunne ( Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike ) disrupted when Amy is apparently abducted during a break in.

Set in the (fictitious) Missouri town of ‘North Carthage’, the movie was made (apart from a few scenes staged in Los Angeles ) almost entirely in and around Cape Girardeau , eastern Missouri on the Illinois border, the town Flynn had in mind when she wrote the best-selling novel.

Behind the credits, we see the town clock of downtown Cape Girardeau , standing at the intersection of North Main Street and Themis Street . Just a few yards west of the clock, at 117 Themis Street on the corner of North Spanish Street, is ‘The Bar’, jointly owned by Nick and his sister Margo ( Carrie Coon ), where he’s spending time when the mysterious break-in is supposed to have occurred. Formerly Socials Cafe & Catering, the property was was empty at the time of filming. It’ll be interesting to see if it becomes a Cape watering hole in the wake of the film’s success.

The bar – and all of downtown – is overlooked by the commanding Common Pleas Courthouse, 44 North Lorimier Street , the most prominent landmark in the area, and destined to feature importantly as the story unfolds.

Nick returns from the bar to discover signs of a violent struggle in the Dunne’s suburban home a couple of miles northwest of the downtown area, at 3014 Keystone Drive , near the Cape Woods Conservation Area .

The couple have moved to ‘North Carthage’ from New York , but there’s very little of the Big Apple to be seen in the flashbacks to their earlier married life.

The shots of the Dunnes moving out of their city brownstone was filmed on the ‘New York City Street’ on Universal Studios’ backlot in Los Angeles .

Gone Girl film location: The Last Bookstore, South Spring Street, Downtown Los Angeles

And when Nick and Amy get it on among the volumes of Jane Austen , the bookshelves are those of The Last Bookstore , 453 South Spring Street at West 5th Street, downtown Los Angeles . At 16,000 square feet, it’s California ’s largest independent bookstore, housed in the Spring Arts Tower – which happens to be directly opposite John Doe’s apartment block from David Fincher ’s earlier Se7en .

Gone Girl film location: Beso Hollywood, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood

The Chinese restaurant, where Amy gets to pre-empt the audience with the line “We’re so cute, I wanna punch us in the face”, was Beso Hollywood (owned and run by Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria and celeb chef Todd English ), 6350 Hollywood Boulevard at Ivar Avenue, in – not surprisingly – Hollywood . Things change quickly – it's now Mexican restaurant, Viva Hollywood .

Back in the present, and ’with his home now a crime scene, Nick goes to stay with Margo at her home at 2404 Albert Rasche Drive , east of the Dunne house.

The investigation into Amy’s disappearance predictably chips away at the too-good-to-be-true relationship, and Nick begins to lose public support with his disastrously offhand performance at a press conference held at the Common Pleas Courthouse . Incidentally, the Gazebo standing on the north side of the courthouse grounds is where Nick later addresses a crowd during a candlelight vigil for his missing wife.

Amy’s more obviously distraught mother cuts a more sympathetic figure, determinedly announcing that ‘Drury Hotels North Carthage’ will become a campaign centre for the search for her missing daughter. The lightly disguised venue was actually the now-closed Drury Lodge, 104 South Vantage Drive , west of downtown on I-55 .

‘North Carthage Police Department’, where Nick faces some uncomfortable questioning from Detective Boney ( Kim Dickens ), is the city's old federal building at 339 Broadway . Since filming, it's been converted into an office building.

Gone Girl film location: Ranney Avenue, downtown Cape Girardeau

The ‘little brown house’ (it’s little, but not brown) where Nick’s dad lives is 831 Ranney Avenue at Elm Street, south of downtown. The modern bridge you can see in the background is the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge , opened in 2003, across which characters are seen driving as they enter or leave town.

The search for Amy takes in both shores of the Mississippi River , at Riverfront Park , on Water and Themis Streets in Cape Girardeau , two blocks east of The Bar, and across the river at Thebes Boat Ramp , Second Street , in the small Illinois town of Thebes . Cape Girardeau itself is a regular stopping point for several old-school steamboats such as the Delta Queen , which you might get to see if you’re lucky enough.

The abandoned mall occupied by homeless people, where the cops discover that Amy had been trying to buy a gun, is a conflation of two different locales – both empty and both in California .

Gone Girl location: Hawthorne Plaza Mall, Hawthorne, Los Angeles

The exterior is the old Montgomery Ward store in the Panorama Mall, 8401 Van Nuys Boulevard, Panorama City up in the San Fernando Valley, but the dark interior is to the south of Los Angeles in Hawthorne . The deserted Hawthorne Plaza Mall, Hawthorne Boulevard at 120th Street, briefly burst into life as the bustling shopping centre to which Tom Cruise took ‘pre-cog’ Samantha Morton in Steven Spielberg ’s Minority Report .

Trying, with some difficulty, to cover the locations without revealing too many spoilers, the out-of-town ‘Missouri Ozarks campground’ is Giant City State Park Lodge , 460 Giant City Lodge Road , Makanda , Illinois .

And the golf course where a little too much financial information gets revealed, with disastrous consequences, is Arena Park Golf , 2901 Hawthorne Road , Cape Girardeau , which, in reality, is only minutes from the Dunne’s home.

The remaining few locations are all around Los Angeles – several of them familiar, though largely unrecognisable, favourites.

As Nick heads off to New York to meet with slick lawyer Tanner Bolt ( Tyler Perry ), both ‘New York’ and ‘St Louis’ airports are Ontario International Airport – not in Canada, of course, but in the city of Ontario, about 38 miles east of downtown LA . Being so close to Hollywood and more amenable than LAX, the airport is a movie regular, seen in the likes of Steven Spielberg ’s Catch Me If You Can and Ben Affleck ’s Argo .

The ‘St Louis Club’ airport bar, though, was filmed in another old downtown standby, the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street .

The ‘New York’ office in which Nick gets to meet with Bolt is the three-story lobby of Gas Company Tower, 555 West 5th Street in Bunker Hill . You’d probably recognize its entrance, on the corner of West 5th Street and Grand Avenue, from Speed , Charlie’s Angeles and Collateral .

West from downtown, in the swanky Hancock Park district, the mansion of Desi Collings ( Neil Patrick Harris ), Amy’s unhealthily obsessed ex, is no stranger to the screen, either. It’s in Fremont Place , the exclusive gated community south of Wilshire Boulevard (and just west of popular location the Ebell Of Wilshire). The same property, 104 Fremont Place , was home to silent star George Valentin ( Jean Dujardin ) in Michel Hazanavicius ’ Oscar-winning The Artist .

And finally, the glitzy modern hotel lobby in which Nick participates in a soul-baring TV interview with Sharon Shieber ( Sela Ward ) is that of the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City , 2151 Avenue of the Stars , in Century City .

• Many thanks to Lindsay Blake from IAmNotAStalker.com for LA locations.

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Visit The Film Locations

Visit: Missouri

Visit: Cape Girardeau

Play a Round at: Arena Park Golf , 2901 Hawthorne Road, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701 ( tel: 573.332.0860 )

Visit: Illinois

Stay at: the Giant City State Park Lodge , 460 Giant City Lodge Road , Makanda, IL 62958 ( tel: 618.457.4921 )

California | Los Angeles

Visit: Los Angeles

Flights: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) , 1 World Way, Los Angeles, CA 90045 ( tel: 424.646.5252 )

Travelling around: Los Angeles Metro

Stay at: the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City , 2151 Avenue of the Stars , Century City,Los Angeles, CA 90067 ( tel: 310.284.6500 )

Visit: The Last Bookstore , 453 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 ( tel: 213.488.0599 )

Dine at: Beso Hollywood , 6350 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028 ( tel: 323.467.7991 )

Gone Girl Ending Explained: She Wants You To Be Your Best

Gone Girl Rosamund Pike

Adapted from Gillian Flynn's bestselling novel by the author herself, David Fincher's "Gone Girl" isn't a movie that screams "aspirational" in the way that a show like "Ted Lasso" does. However, for a certain breed of cinephile — someone who prefers dark dramas to rom-coms — "Gone Girl" might be the only date movie you'll ever need.

Fincher's previous film, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," marketed itself as "The Feel-Bad Movie of Christmas." Superficially, none of his movies are what a person might call uplifting, in the Lasso way by any other definition. Yet 2021 brought 10 Oscar nominations for "Mank," Fincher's long-awaited feature-film follow-up to "Gone Girl." It found a home on Netflix, where Fincher had kept busy with the series "Mindhunter" in the intervening years. The same streaming service hosted Rosamund Pike, the "gone girl" herself, for her return to thriller territory in 2021 with "I Care a Lot."

With her perfectly styled kitchen hair, Pike's "Gone Girl" character, Amy Dunne, does hold a warped yet weirdly aspirational view of marriage. She wants herself and her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck), to be their best selves around each other. Nick doesn't understand or appreciate Amy's full depth, and the ending of "Gone Girl" might scan that way for some viewers.

Pick out the right clothes. Put on your best face. Make a commitment to your spouse or partner in crime, and make a commitment to "Gone Girl." If you've already made that commitment for 2.5 hours of your life, maybe you'll be willing to go a little further as we reassess the movie's ending.

'She Loves To Teach Lessons'

As "Gone Girl" rolls into its final hour, Nick and his sister, Go (Carrie Coon), deliver a helpful recap of the film's plot to Nick's attorney, Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry, cast against type in a black-hearted Fincher film). Nick says Amy "loves to teach lessons" and she likes to play God — as in, "Old Testament God." He's given her good reason to be vengeful by his philandering with his student, Andie (Emily Ratajkowski). He tells Tanner:

"So she finds out I been cheating on her with Andie. Decides to teach me a lesson. Fakes her own death, frames me for it. Blood in the house, credit cards, life insurance ... Now the treasure hunt is critical. She's taking us on a tour of my infidelities. Rubbing my nose in it. And she leaves clue #1 for the police, which will lead them back to my office."

Tanner thinks their best strategy is to find Amy. Meanwhile, in the Ozarks, Amy's campground neighbors rob her of her money belt. With nowhere else to go, she turns to Doogie Howser, or at least the actor who played him: Neil Patrick Harris (also cast against comedy type).

Here, Harris embodies Amy's high school not-so-sweetheart, Desi Collins, who's still a pushover for her. In a riverboat casino, Amy gains Desi's sympathies by lying and saying she was pregnant but "lost the baby" due to Nick's abuse. She tells Desi, "Knowing you were out there was the only thing that's kept me going these past few years." He sets her up in his secluded lake house, where he will soon learn that Amy is not a damsel in distress, but a dragonness.

All the Right Words

In the lake house, Amy sheds the weight she gained to disguise herself, all the while plotting her escape. When she sees Nick on national TV he says all the right words, likening himself to "a con artist" who broke the vow that he made her and disrespected their marriage. Amy sits up on the couch next to Desi, paying rapt attention. TV Nick continues:

"I was this average guy from an average place with mediocre aspirations. And I met a woman who dazzled me. And I wanted her to love me, so I pretended to be better than I was. When we got married, I promised to be that guy, that guy who works harder."

Nick asks her to come back, delivering a coded message about taking himself to the woodshed ... and the game is on. Amy places an anonymous call, tipping the police off about Nick's man-cave. They arrest him after discovering a cornucopia of expensive goods that Amy bought to frame Nick, even as she affects her new plan: staging a fake crying bout for Desi's all-seeing surveillance cameras and making it look like he held her against her will and sexually assaulted her.

In a shocking scene, Amy becomes her own bloody savior on a Savoir bed while having intercourse with Desi. As the music throbs and Desi thrusts, Amy goes "Basic Instinct" on him, sliding a box cutter — one of Flynn's ever-present sharp objects — out from under the pillow and slitting his throat.

The ongoing media circus labels her dramatic return, "Miracle on the Mississippi." She gives them what Nick calls an "insane story about being held prisoner by a man with a history of mental problems." Only Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) presses Amy on the inconsistencies in her story.

'Undisciplined Love Is Disastrous'

It might be cheating a bit, but the last chapter of Flynn's novel helps illuminate the themes of both the book itself and her screenplay. It begins with "Amazing" Amy reflecting on the nature of love:

"I was told love should be unconditional. That's the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge? I am supposed to love Nick despite all his shortcomings. And Nick is supposed to love me despite my quirks. But clearly, neither of us does. It makes me think that everyone is very wrong, that love should have many conditions. Love should require both partners to be their very best at all times. Unconditional love is an undisciplined love, and as we have all seen, undisciplined love is disastrous."

Fincher doesn't spell this out for the viewer the same way, because he relies more on subtext and is not known for making message movies. But the core of "Gone Girl" is Amy's desire to have back the man she married — who tried so hard to win her and then gave up trying after he won and the seven-year itch set in. She wants Nick to re-discipline himself and act the good husband, not only for the cameras outside their house, but also for her again.

When they come back to their McMansion from the hospital and are safely behind closed doors, Nick tells Amy, "You can stop pretending now." She replies, "I'm not pretending. You were perfect. The Nick I saw on TV, that's the Nick I fell in love with."

A Fighter and a Killer

In the shower — the only place where Amy can be sure that Nick's not wearing a wire, because it's the naked zone — Nick calls Amy a murderer. Still with Desi's blood on her, she retorts, "I'm a fighter. I fought my way back to you."

The trick of it is, they're both right. Amy is a brazen killer and Machiavellian manipulator, but going by her own twisted logic, she did it all for love. Within the movie's fictional hyper-reality, her actions actually make sense and are rather instructive thematically.

Amy encourages Nick not to make any rash decisions about leaving her, saying, "Give it the night. Sleep on it." In the morning, she's there to greet him with the words, "Hello, handsome," while making him a crepe, looking like the perfect wife. They've had a hell of a fight — a movie-length battle of wits — but love means never having to say you're sorry, and to Amy, it's as if none of it ever happened now.

"I can't believe that spider is America's sweetheart," Go laments. Tanner has the healthiest reaction: he throws up his hands and says of Amazing Amy and her humbled husband: "I swear, you two are the most f**ked up people I've ever known."

There's a perverse pleasure to seeing Amy tuck Nick in and tell him she would never, ever hurt him. She sees this as their second chance at love and wants him to participate in their marriage. They form a shaky truce even as Nick secretly plans to out her as "a calculated, murderous psychopath."

But before he can do that, Amy drops a bombshell on him: she's pregnant.

The Real Meaning of Commitment

Using Nick's semen, which they'd kept on ice at a fertility clinic, Amy has artificially inseminated herself. This gives her the leverage she needs to blackmail Nick into staying with her, because he doesn't want to let her raise the child alone and poison its mind.

The things Amy fabricated for her diary are presently coming true. There really is a baby now, and Nick really does push her. He shoves her up against the wall and calls her the worst thing imaginable. With her hair now tousled, she looks both him and us in the eye and replies:

"I'm the c**t you married. The only time you liked yourself was when you were trying to be someone this c**t might like. I'm not a quitter. I'm that c**t. I've killed for you."

"Gone Girl" is a thriller in the vein of Fincher's "Panic Room," but it's not just a popcorn film. It's a movie with some meat to it, about a top-shelf antihero who demands nothing less than what she was promised when her husband first wooed her and they exchanged their wedding vows. In the way of a jealous goddess, Amy teaches both Nick and the audience a lesson.

It would be easy to think this film presents a dim view of marriage when it characterizes it in terms of resentment and pain. However, "Gone Girl" is a movie that interrogates the real meaning of commitment and suggests that being truly committed means putting forth one's best efforts even when the thrill is gone.

Snuggle up with your partner in your Savoir bed (of blood) and watch it again, why don't you?

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37 Things We Learned From David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ Commentary

Gone Girl

Welcome to Commentary Commentary , our long-running series of articles exploring the things we can learn from the most interesting filmmaker commentaries available on DVD and Blu-ray.

The adaptation of Gillian Flynn ’s second novel, Dark Places , hits theaters this week, but while Charlize Theron gives a strong performance the movie is an absolute mess. The issues rest mostly with the script (and presumably the source material), and it’s guaranteed to receive nothing like the reaction afforded the previous film made from her work, Gone Girl .

It helps of course to have David Fincher in the director’s chair, but the difference between the two films is like night and day. Fincher is never one to mince words, and he always delivers commentary tracks that entertain and inform in equal measure. If you haven’t listened to his Fight Club one with Brad Pitt and Ed Norton do so soon, it’s fantastic. He tackles this one alone resulting in a few collective minutes of silence, but he spends most of the film’s two and a half hour running time-sharing facts, anecdotes, and curse words. It’s pretty great stuff.

Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for Gone Girl .

Gone Girl (2014)

Commentator: David Fincher (director)

1. The opening shot was problematic for Fincher and friends. “We had these long wigs for Amy ( Rosamund Pike ) as she’s meant to be adored, and they were just — I think almost every single shot of her in this movie has been retouched along the wig line in order to fix it.”

2. The film was shot in the small town of Cape Girardeau a couple hours south of St. Louis, MO. He says he told author Gillian Flynn that they had found the perfect location and named the town only to have her reply that this was the town she had in mind when writing the novel. “You don’t have to keep this a fucking secret. If you have ideas about where these things should take place. If you want to hip us to what you had in your head while you were actually writing it, by all means, feel free to.”

3. Finding someone to play Nick Dunne’s ( Ben Affleck ) twin sister was a daunting task. “The actor who’s going to play Margo has to really be able to think and verbalize and finish sentences at the same speed as Ben Affleck does, and that wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, and we were incredibly fortunate when Carrie Coon dropped out of the sky and into our laps.”

4. Fincher hadn’t thought of Affleck for this role because he knew that the actor/director was in the process of “crewing up for his Dennis Lehane film.” He’s presumably referring to Live By Night which is currently scheduled for release in the fall of 2016.

5. “You have to market a movie in a way that’s going to bring people into the theaters. Sometimes you have to promise them things that are beyond the opening scenes of the narrative, and when you do that you kind of fuck up. Their minds aren’t blank slates when they come into the theater.” He’s referring to the differences in the first test audiences — those who saw the film before marketing showing Amy underwater was released — and later audiences who had seen those images before seeing the film.

6. The alley scene behind the bakery “was the only time I ever shot on the back lot at Universal, and it was only because it ended up being much less of a nightmare than trying to shoot in Brooklyn.”

7. There was a lot of studio concern about Nick’s likability — “which you can imagine was of preeminent importance to me” — and the issue came to a head during the film’s first sex scene. “It was originally supposed to be this unbelievable, missionary position sex that resulted in cooperative orgasms,” he says, but he shifted it to cunnilingus instead. He broached this with the actors, “and Rosamund said ‘Oh I think Amy would like that very much.’” When Flynn saw the dailies she agreed that Nick would no longer have likability issues “at least as it relates to women.”

8. He says Affleck has a real gift when it comes to pretending to have a phone conversation. “If I was his wife I would be very suspicious of whoever just called.”

9. Fincher had been a fan of Kim Dickens for years but was unaware of it. “I had seen her a million times but had never put it together that it was the same person. I’d seen her in Deadwood , I’d seen her in Treme , I’d seen her in, I think, Hollow Man , and she has a very interesting energy.”

10. He loves the little moments occurring just beyond the main action. As examples he offers the glimpse of Patrick Fugit at the 18:19 mark where he’s alone in a room, behind the window, but still clearly in character, and then the constant arm scratching of Bill Dunne ( Leonard Kelly-Young ) which actually came at the actor’s suggestion.

11. The photo of young Neil Patrick Harris and Pike is a composite of two old photos belonging to the actors. “I love the idea of introducing the stalker ex-boyfriend in his prom picture.”

12. The scene with the townspeople and children gathering excitedly around the July 4th holiday to search for Amy’s body reminds Fincher of  Jaws .

13. He recalls seeing Being There as a projectionist in Ashland, OR “probably 175 times,” and along with The Thing it marked David Clennon as an actor of note. He is “so funny when playing slightly confused and earnest.”

14. The Missi Pyle scenes were shot on the last day of filming. “Ellen Abbott is a creation. She’s not meant to be based on anyone in real life, in particular, but she certainly has aspects of her that are Nancy Grace-ish.”

15. Casting the role of Andie Fitzgerald required that they “find somebody who could divide the audience immediately. Women are going to lean back in their chairs, be disgusted, cross their arms and go ‘He is a fucking prick,’ and that men would lean forward and say ‘Yup, I mean it’s kind of understandable.’” Affleck actually suggested Emily Ratajkowski describing her as “the girl from the ‘Blurred Lines’ video.” Fincher had no idea what that was.

16. The moment at 46:56 “really looks like a Hitchcock blond to me. That really feels like Grace Kelly or something, the angle and the smudge of tears and snot.”

17. They couldn’t find an abandoned mall in Missouri, so the empty mall location they used is in central Los Angeles.

18. He loves the scene of the 6’5″ Nick dressing the diminutive Andie to try and sneak her out the door. “It almost looks like he was getting her ready for a school bus. It was so Lolita-esque.”

19. Steven Soderbergh has a side project involving the importation of a Bolivian alcohol called Singani 63, and Fincher told him he could choose where the drink would be featured in the film. “He chose a later scene where Rosamund Pike violates herself with a bottle.” Sadly, Pike chose a Chardonnay for the scene in question “for actor reasons,” so they included it elsewhere.

20. The anamorphic lens flares were added in post-production “just to fuck with people.”

21. One of the things that kept Fincher from committing to the film for several months was his insistence with studio executives that none of the footage showing what really happened with Amy could be used in the trailer. He knew that even a brief shot of her outside the norm would hint that something was amiss to viewers. “We have to limit ourselves to showing Amy only in flashbacks.” Worries over audience tracking apparently led someone to suggest that they use the shot of Amy returning home covered in blood in a trailer. Fincher fought this asinine idea.

22. Pike gained and lost fifteen or so pounds over the course of a few weeks. “It’s not something you want to do. Just ask Robert De Niro.”

23. He was “lukewarm” on the idea of Greta’s ( Lola Kirke ) tramp-stamp during production, but he’s cool with it now.

24. Fincher called Tyler Perry and asked him to take a look at the script for a possible role, but Perry was incredulous at the offer. “He’s very, very humble.” Tanner Bolt is “much more of an Alec Baldwin from Malice ” in the book, but Fincher loved what Perry naturally brought to the character. “He listens, he puts you at ease.”

25. Scoot McNairy came in and filmed his scene in one day, and Fincher was grateful they made it happen. He loves the idea of a character who asks rhetorically if you could imagine them in prison, and he needed an actor who could wear that line believably. “He makes half of his case just by showing up.”

26. One of Fincher’s “favorite moments in movie history” is the scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan where Diane Keaton introduces the man who taught her true intimacy.

27. Fincher wanted Nick to put on a NY Yankees baseball cap in the airport scene where he tries to hide his face, “but being from Boston and not being very professional as an actor, Ben refused to wear a Yankees cap. It did not come to blows, but we had to shut down production for four days as we negotiated.” Mmhmm.

28. “Carrie Coon learned the hard way that the last thing you want to do in one of my movies is eat.” He says this during the diner scene where Margo is munching fries, and is referring to his reputation as a director prone to multiple takes. “She probably sucked down at least five and a half pounds of french fries.”

29. Locals began appearing in the neighborhood to watch filming even going so far as to set up folding chairs across the street from the front door. The AD offered to clear them out before shooting, but Fincher felt it was the perfect atmosphere and reminiscent of the crowds who gathered outside the Nicole Simpson’s house.

30. A car drove by while they were filming a night shot outside of a motel, “and the window rolled down and somebody yelled out of the car ‘night exterior, shooting motel’ and they drove off laughing.”

31. The shot of the riverboat casino at 1:41:43 is actually a matte painting.

32. They filmed in a real casino and had no control over the extras, but they had no issues. “The great news about shooting in a casino is that if you don’t have control of the background the last thing you need to worry about is people looking in the lens because they’re all watching their money.”

33. Andie Fitzgerald was Andie Hardy in the book, but Fincher pointed out that Andy Hardy is already a character in movies so they changed it.

34. “So, everybody bitches and moans about how many takes, people I’ve never even met complain about how many takes I shoot,” he says, but he points out that the shot of Desi (Neil Patrick Harris) parking the Jaguar dead center in the frame was the second take, and there wasn’t a third. “We walked away after take two. So please, go fuck yourselves.”

35. Amy and Desi’s sex scene was shot over two days, had thirty-six changes of wardrobe and linens. “It was a particularly complex scene to shoot, not so much for the activity but for the clean-up.”

20th Century Fox

36. Fincher had a precise vision of how he wanted the reunion scene to go, from the cameras and crane shot to the “poster for Gone With the Wind ” shot of her falling in Nick’s arms, and “when I showed that to Ben and Rosamund that’s when they were like ‘What is this movie? What is going on?’ It was a very enjoyable moment because I think they finally realized how unhinged the third act of this movie was going to be.”

37. They teased Affleck on set regarding the villainous chin and suggested that the harassment led him to “immediately get on the phone with his agent” to find him a heroic chin role. “And that’s how Batman came about.”

Best in Commentary

  • “One of the things we found during editing that we became profoundly aware of is the need for Regency Pictures to get a new logo.”
  • “Wig technology has not really changed since Shakespeare.”
  • “I love the idea of romance against garbage.”
  • “I think one of the things that becomes apparent about Gillian through her writing is that bourbon and sex are very, very big topics with her.”
  • “There are definitely moments on a shoot where you can overthink shit into oblivion.”
  • “It’s an interesting comment on society when characters in movies don’t have to explain what Luminol is.”
  • “Whenever called upon Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross can find a sound for insanity.”
  • “So, now the movie gets really weird.”

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned in the intro, Fincher gives fantastic commentary tracks, and his latest is no exception. I’m still not in love with the film, but his insights and thoughts have led me to a greater appreciation of it all the same. It’s almost enough to make me curious if his commentary can do the same for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button . Almost.

Related Topics: Commentary Commentary , Filmmaking

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Recommended Reading

Filmmaking 101: what a dit does on a movie set, the elements of suspense: how 3 different directors build tension, how they made ‘everything everywhere all at once’ on a budget, sounds thrilling: the sound design of david fincher.

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Drama / Thriller / Mystery

Country: United States

Release Date: 2014

Runtime: 145 min

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Ben Affleck , Rosamund Pike , Casey Wilson , Kim Dickens , Tyler Perry , Lee Norris , Neil Patrick Harris , Missi Pyle , Patrick Fugit , Kathleen Rose Perkins , Sela Ward , Scoot McNairy , Emily Ratajkowski , Boyd Holbrook , David Clennon , Lisa Banes , Lola Kirke , Lars Slind , Carrie Coon , Jamie McShane

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Riverboat Casino

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Missing Amy Dunne is going into Riverboat Casino whose owner is Desi Collings her ex-boyfriend from High School.

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An Apartment in New York

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Amy Dunne and Nick Dunne are moving out from New York to Missouri.

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Address: Brownstone Street 101-119, Universal City

GPS: 34.141286, -118.350461

Amy and Nick's new House

Amy and Nick's new House

Time of the screenshot: 00:41:40

Amy and Nick had arrived in front of their new house in Missouri where Nick's mother and sister are waiting for them.

Actors on Screenshot: Ben Affleck , Carrie Coon

Address: Keystone Drive 2937-2999, Cape Girardeau

GPS: 37.324451, -89.575436

The House of Nick's Father

The House of Nick's Father

Time of the screenshot: 01:03:20

Detective Rhonda Boney and Officer James Gilpin are searching the house of Nick's father where they are looking for a new clue to the case missing Amy.

Address: Elm Street 601-699, Cape Girardeau

GPS: 37.291639, -89.528006

The Bar

The Bar in Cape Girardeau, MO

The Bar

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The Bar

Time of the screenshot: 01:30:07

Nick is on the way to the Bar but when he sees how many guys are in front of the Bar, he doesn't stop there and goes on.

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Photographers: Donnagail45

Address: North Spanish Street 44 and Themis Street 117, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

GPS: 37.304816, -89.519318

"The Bar" in Cape Girardeau, MO

The House of Nick's Sister

The House of Nick's Sister

Time of the screenshot: 01:30:55

Nick's lawyer has arrived from New York in front of the House of Nick's Sister where Nick is stayed last couple days.

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Address: Albert Rasche Drive 2406, Cape Girardeau

GPS: 37.330019, -89.552738

The Miniature Golf

The Miniature Golf

Time of the screenshot: 01:33:30

Jeff, Greta and Amy are just playing the miniature golf.

Actors on Screenshot: Rosamund Pike , Lola Kirke , Boyd Holbrook

Address: Hawthorne Road 901-935, Cape Girardeau

GPS: 37.317106, -89.566488

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A Guide To The Most Iconic Riverboat Casinos In The US 


Jetset Times

Talk about casino destinations and you’ll most likely think of Las Vegas, Atlantic City or, if you are travelling outside the US, maybe Monaco or Macau.

Amelia Belle Casino

Yet what are called “land based” or “bricks and mortar” casinos to differentiate them from the online versions are not necessarily on land or made of bricks and mortar.

We refer, of course, to riverboat casinos, a little slice of Americana that’s as American as Super Bowl Sunday or Thanksgiving turkey. Riverboat casinos conjure up images of the Mississippi and Mark Twain complete with white suit, top hat and cigar. There are more than 60 riverboat casinos operating in the USA and every single one of them has a story to tell. Here, we highlight a handful of the very best.

The Grand Victoria, Elgin

Our first stop is not on the Mississippi at all, but on the Fox River in Elgin, 50 miles north west of Chicago . Owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment, the Grand Victoria really is a slice of Las Vegas on the Illinois waterfront.  With more than 1,000 slots and video poker terminals and 36 tables, there’s a great choice of games.

If all that gambling whets your appetite, there are four dining options on board, including the highly rated Buckingham’s Steakhouse and Lounge.

Casino Queen, Marquette  

The Casino Queen would look like a lifeboat if it was moored alongside the Grand Victoria, but that is all part of its charm. It offers a more intimate and personalized experience, and although there are only eight tables, they host an intriguing variety of games that are not commonly found in land (or water) based casinos. If you know how to gamble online in the US , you’ve probably seen fusion blackjack and 21+3 at US online casinos. The Casino Queen gives you an opportunity to play them in real casino surroundings.

When you step ashore, there is an adjacent 31-acre entertainment complex with a variety of attractions and a huge choice of dining options.

The Amelia Belle, Amelia  

At last, we arrive in Louisiana, where the Amelia Belle lies nestled in the Avoca Island Cutoff waterway. This classic four-story riverboat looks like it has stepped straight out of a photograph from the turn of the 20 th century. When it is lit up at night, it takes your breath away.

At the tables, poker is the order of the day. The casino offers Mississippi stud, 3-card poker and Texas Holdem. There are also 800 slot games, while the Fanduel sportsbook has self-service betting kiosks, a wall full of television screens, and a huge video wall to show the biggest events.

Sam’s Town, Shreveport

On the opposite side of Louisiana, Sam’s Town could not be more different to the Amelia Belle. This floating leisure complex houses a hotel, health spa, sauna and live entertainment venue.

The casino offers more than 1,000 slots and 30 table games that include blackjack, roulette, baccarat, Let it Ride and Craps No More.

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The Criminal Journal

  • Mary Kathryn Greene missing: 35-year-old woman last seen leaving home over five decades ago

The Criminal Journal

Richard Archibeque behind bars for the cold case murder of his 17-year-old classmate, Mary Quigley


Richard Archibeque is behind bars for the murder of his 17-year-old classmate, Mary Quigley, whose body was found on a chain-link fence at a park in Santa Clara, California.

On the night of Sept. 9, 1977, Mary’s friend picked her up from her house on a motorcycle and they went to a back-to-school beer party at a house on the corner of Monroe and Market Streets, according to The Californian .

Sometime during the party, Mary’s friend left. When he returned to take her home, she wasn’t there.

Police officials learned through an investigation that Mary, a senior at Santa Clara High School, had left the party on foot and was supposedly going to a friend’s house, but she never made it.

The following day, on Sept. 10, 1977, a groundskeeper found her lifeless body at Washington Park, now called War Memorial Park. 

She was naked, except for socks, and her clothes were scattered around her body.

Evidence suggested that she had been dragged about 30 feet to a chain-link fence, where she was hung by her neck with the sash from her kimono-style jacket.

An autopsy revealed that Mary died of suffocation. 

The medical examiner also ascertained that Mary had sexual intercourse within 72 hours of her death, as semen was found on and inside her vagina.

Detectives submitted DNA evidence to the Santa Clara County Crime Laboratory for DNA analysis, but there was no match.

Photo of Mary Quigley

Mary’s case went unsolved for nearly three decades.

Detectives got a break in the case in 2006 when the DNA evidence matched the DNA of Archibeque.

At the time, Archibeque was working as a handyman. He was divorced and had one child. 

He spent three years in prison for raping and kidnapping a teenage girl in 1979. And when he was released, he was ordered to register as a sex offender and submit a DNA sample to the database.

A Santa Clara University law professor said, “This is an issue where people are remaining in custody who shouldn’t be, and people who should be in custody are out on the streets.”

“Most laboratories are not adequately staffed to provide timely information on investigative-level cases,” according to the director of Orange County’s crime lab and president of a statewide organization for crime lab chiefs.

On Dec. 27, 2006, Archibeque was arrested and booked into the Santa Clara County Jail. According to The Desert Sun , he was “charged with one count of murder, with a special circumstance of murder committed during a rape.”

Mary’s mother told the Mercury News that she is “so grateful that the police and our society didn’t forget, didn’t quit looking. It doesn’t bring her back, but at least I know what happened, and that’s more than I ever had before.”

A Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney stated that he was “satisfied with the arrest.”

“This was a heinous crime, and it cries out for justice, and that cry was heard. The nice thing about murder is that there is no statute of limitations.”

Archibeque went to trial, which lasted nearly 22-weeks.

In March 2009, a jury deliberated for three days before they found Archibeque guilty of murdering Mary.

A judge sentenced him to seven years to life in prison.

In 2010, Archibeque filed an appeal , but it was denied, and his murder conviction was upheld.

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Riverboat Gambling In The US – The Best Riverboat Casinos

Jane Shaw

We count on Jane to inform our readers about the latest slot games in the US market. With her passion for video games and a degree in engineering, she’s our gambling tech expert . Jane’s also active in our blog section, where she tackles the curiosities and changes in the industry.

guide on luxurious riverboat casinos in the USA

If you were to close your eyes and imagine a riverboat casino, your mind will probably conjure up an image that would look like something straight out of a Mark Twain novel. Riverboats are represented in pop culture as paddlewheel steamboats that float around languidly, while the cacophony of laughter and excited hoots make their way through the air.

However, riverboat casinos are far more advanced than once thought out to be, offering a unique experience to tourists and seasoned gamblers. In this guide, we’ll take a trip down the river and explore the origins, history and current state of the best riverboat casinos in the USA. All aboard!

Riverboat Gambling In The US – The Rise of the Riverboat Casinos

If only it was easy to point out a go-to destination for the best riverboat casinos. Riverboat gambling goes back a long way through American history. To see a complete picture of riverboat gambling today, we need to first ride down the cruise ship of history to discover the origins of riverboat gambling . Meanwhile, if you are located in any state with legal online gambling, you can play at any of the best online casinos in the US . Read on till the end of this guide to take your pick on the best riverboat casino locations.

  • 📖 History of riverboat gambling
  • ⛵ Riverboat gambling economies
  • 🧐 Fun Facts
  • 💰 Riverboat Casinos Today

History of Riverboat Gambling in the USA

When riverboat gaming first took the USA by storm, paddlewheel riverboats had long been used on the Mississippi River as a means of passenger and freight transportation. With the advent of the railways, riverboats saw their utility decline and started to be viewed as entertainment and leisure vessels by the public.

Boat cruises were popular for their live music and dancing, but also as a way to escape the crowded cities across the US. As these boats became entertainment hubs, gambling gained popularity on board . Initially, gambling was limited to card and table games, but slot machines were eventually added to most riverboats. Nowadays, players in states with legal online gambling can enjoy the best real money online casinos . For example, if they are within the state of New Jersey, they can enjoy the best online casinos in NJ without leaving the comfort of their own homes.

As the Mississippi River served as the border of several states, it created the perfect legal gray area. In 1903, several states simultaneously softened their stance on gambling due to the economic potential that it offered. Thus began the golden era of riverboat gambling . The first casinos were required to be located on ships that would have to sail away from the dock. In some parts, gambling was only allowed once the ship was sailing.

The Lyndon B. Johnson Era

The administration under Lyndon. B Johnson placed significant restrictions on what riverboat casinos could legally do. In 1951, the Transportation of Gambling Devices Act was passed, which made the transportation of gambling devices across state borders illegal. This placed limitations on how riverboats could operate.

Riverboat casinos were first approved by state lawmakers in the late 20th century by those states which prohibited gambling on land. In the 1980s, lawmakers had the vision to revive the golden era of riverboat gambling. Several states simultaneously introduced laws that permitted gambling on water vessels, creating the framework under which they still operate today. Iowa was the first state to fully legalize riverboat gambling . Apart from Iowa, Riverboat gambling is legal in Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, and Missouri too.

Riverboat Casino Economies

In 2010, there were 10 operational riverboat casinos. This number might pale in comparison to the number of land casinos in the United States, but riverboat gambling saw a massive boom during the 2010s. In 2018, there were 63 riverboat casinos in operation across the legal states. This spike in growth suggests that riverboat casinos have a distinct appeal, separate from that of land-based casinos.

Riverboats make massive contributions to local economies, as all winnings are taxed by the state. Before you start playing, make sure to acquaint yourself with the gambling commission of the state in which you are planning on playing. In Iowa, if you win over $1,200, you’ll be paying an eye-watering 15% as tax to the state and 5% to the local community, whereas in Iowa, the tax rate stands at a little over 5%.

Proponents of riverboat casinos frequently argue that these floating casinos increase employment rates in the communities where the boats are docked. To support the requirements of large floating casinos, communities are engaged in the development of restaurants, shopping, accommodation, recreation, and other hospitality facilities to capitalize on the spending power of visiting tourists .

Since state legislatures were never willing to give up on the revenues generated by casinos. In a unique ruling in 1998, courts had stated that boats had to be “solely over and in contact with the surface” of rivers, thereby eliminating the need for actual floating vessels. Over time, the rules were amended to allow the construction of casinos on stilts , with the caveat that they had to be located in navigable water.

Fun Facts About Riverboat Casinos

Before we get into the list of top riverboat gambling destinations, we would like to share a few fun historical facts and trivia that you might find interesting. These facts might even make good conversation starters should you get down to maritime gaming.

When riverboat gambling was legalized for the first time in the late 1980s, different states put forward varying cosmetic requirements . In an inconvenience to casino owners, all Louisiana riverboat casinos were required to be constructed exactly like the 19th-century paddlewheel steamboats, for reasons unknown. To run a legal riverboat casino in Indiana, vessels had to have a minimum length of 150 feet and a minimum carrying capacity of 500 passengers.

There have also been violent incidents associated with riverboat gambling. As riverboat casinos operated on the water, it was often thought that they were somehow exempt from the laws of the land. Historians have discovered several instances of individuals punishing cheaters and thieves by taking the law into their own hands. in 1835, five gamblers were lynched in Vicksburg Mississippi when they were caught cheating.

Some of the biggest reforms to riverboat gambling were brought on – unfortunately – by Hurricane Katrina. Before 2005, most riverboat casinos only allowed gambling when the vessel was sailing. However, this was not realistic all year round, as boats could not leave their docks in unpredictable weather . After Katrina, most state laws dictate that riverboat casinos need to be docked for safety.

Riverboat Casinos Today

The Mississippi River region is still the hotbed of all riverboat gambling in the United States. Today, there are over 20 riverboat casinos that gamblers can choose from. Let’s take a look at some of the best riverboat casinos today. In order to make this list, the casinos that we evaluated have had to meet stringent requirements of variety, novelty, hospitality, and service.

The Amelia Belle, Louisiana

One of the best riverboat casinos in Louisiana that we recommend are owned by Boyd Gaming, the casino giant from Paradise Nevada. The Amelia Belle is located in Amelia Louisiana , between Houma and Morgan City, built on the edge of the water in the Avoca Island Cutoff waterway.

The Amelia Belle could easily be considered one of the beautiful casinos in this guide. Spread out over four stories, it sports a turn-of-the-century look and appears stunning when illuminated at night. The Amelia Belle has over 800 slot machines and 15 table games .

The Amelia Belle recently added dining options to feed the hunger of visiting gamblers. If you are visiting, drop by the Bayou Cafe on the first floor to grab a quick bite. The Amelia Belle is open 24×7 on the weekends and you can expect games like Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em, Three Card Poker, and Electronic Roulette.

Grand Victoria Casino, Illinois

The El Dorado Resorts-owned Grand Victoria Casino is located on the Fox River in Elgin, Illinois. The Grand Victoria stands out from the other top riverboat casinos in this guide as it has an abundance of restaurants on board . Before we look into their gastronomical offerings, let’s examine gambling aboard the Grand Victoria.

The Grand Victoria offers a gambling experience unmatched by others in the area. With a casino floor that covers 29850 square feet , you could spend hours at the Grand Victoria without going through everything that’s on offer. The casino even has a High Limit Room for big bettors.

Within the casino, you’ll find 1000 of the most popular slot machines and video poker games. You can also try your hand at 29 Vegas-style table games, a poker room, a lounge, and seasonal entertainment venues . There are also several well-established hotels near Grand Victoria, in case you want to make your excursion a multi-day affair.

While most riverboat casinos were slow to catch up to fine dining experiences, the Grand Victoria is ahead of the curve. You can indulge yourself at four restaurants on board named Buckinghams Steakhouse and Lounge, Indulge Show Kitchen Buffer, Crave Deli and Prime Burger house.

Casino Queen Marquette

Casino Queen Marquette is a smaller riverboat casino owned by CQ Holdings. Thanks to its small size and limited capacity, Queen Marquette offers a more exclusive and personalized experience in comparison to other top riverboat casinos. Located next to a 31-acre site, the casino has a marina, an enclosed dining pavilion on the first floor, and an entertainment center on the second floor.

Since it is a small and quaint casino, you will only find 8 live tables at Queen Marquette. This is balanced out with the provision of 566 slot machines and video poker games . Some of the games you can look forward to playing at Queen Marquette are Mississippi Stud, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em, Blackjack and Fusion Roulette.

Ameristar Casino MIssissippi

The Ameristar Casino is located on the banks of the famed Mississippi River. It is conveniently located on the Mississippi-Louisiana border just off Interstate 20. The casino is part of a much larger complex featuring a hotel, three restaurants, a blues bar, a cabaret, and a full-service RV Park.

The Ameristar Casino has 70,000 square feet of the casino floor. You can enjoy games at 27 tables or 1571 gaming machines. There are also 10 live-action poker tables. The casino has been designed to retain the atmosphere of a 19th-century gambling boat .

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve had your eyes glued to the screen till the end of this guide, you know exactly where to go to find an authentic riverboat gambling experience in the USA>. Apart from the casino boats mentioned in this guide, there are several others that are worth looking into. However, we can guarantee that you will have a fabulous experience playing at the casinos that we have covered in this guide.

Is riverboat gambling legal in the USA?

How many riverboat casinos are operational in the usa, which is the best riverboat gambling facility in america, what games are available at the best riverboat casinos, what additional facilities are available at riverboat casinos.

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riverboat casino gone girl

Riverboat Gambler Loses Savings, Home And Her Life

The phone call came at 11:15 a.m.

“You need to come home,” the police officer told Steve, who was at work at the oil refinery.

It had to be one of two things. Either his wife, Kate, had been in a car accident - he’d warned her about that blind spot in the driveway - or some “dope head” had broken into his house again.

When he rounded the corner in his quiet neighborhood that Wednesday morning, he saw a moving van in front of his ranch-style house. Its ramp was down. Squad cars waited in the driveway.

“I’m sorry, Steve,” a detective friend said, “your wife is dead. But you better call a lawyer. Now. Not tomorrow. Not in an hour. Right this minute.”

The detective told Steve two things: His mortgage was 17 months behind. And the sheriff, there to evict him, had found Kate’s suicide note.

Nobody said a word about the casino boats. But they had their suspicions.

Steve thought he knew his wife of 16 years. She was a devoted mother of two - a girl, 9, a boy, 11. She tatted lace, knitted winter scarves, collected pig figurines. She was a volunteer at the Lutheran church.

What he didn’t know was that she was a compulsive gambler who secretly spent the family savings and mortgage money.

“I had no idea what was going on,” said Steve, who, to protect his children, asked that the couple’s last name not be used. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. First my wife is gone - then my house.”

Steve immediately started to go through his family’s financial records, which Kate had always handled.

Instead of $8,000 in the savings account, he found $830. The $5,000 tax refund was gone. Then he found the check stubs.

Cash withdrawals in amounts of $150 and $200, one after the other. Savings account withdrawals for $1,200.

Steve found his first clue to Kate’s troubles in a W-2 tax form. Taxes his wife paid on a $1,200 win at the casino boat. He found more papers and brochures from a nearby riverboat casino. The Alton Belle and River Queen were less than 15 minutes from their home.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “She was the master of deceit.”

The only time he went to a casino with Kate was in October, for her 40th birthday. Kate insisted. They agreed to spend $40 each.

Others who knew Kate were shocked, too.

“I knew she went to the boats,” said one of her friends, who did not want to be identified. “But not to this extent. This was not in sync with who she really was. She was a mother, helping at school and Cub Scouts.

“I’ve really struggled with this. My first response was, `The woman I knew didn’t do this.”’

But a police officer at the scene said the combination of suicide and heavy debt suggested to him that gambling was probably behind this tragedy.

Steve found a paper trail that read like a diary of Kate’s hidden life aboard the gambling boats. She pawned her wedding rings. His ring. And all she had to show for it was debt.”It was the kitchen match that caught the forest on fire,” Steve said. “It starts with one tree and before you know it the whole forest is on fire. And she couldn’t put the fire out.”

Kate, a University of Missouri graduate, started gambling with the mortgage money more than a year ago.

Court records show a bank process server tried to reach her husband 10 times. Ten times Kate - who years ago worked at a finance company finding people with bad credit - held them at bay.

She was notified that on Feb. 1, the court-ordered process server and officers from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office would move the family out of the house.

That morning, she drove her children to school. At home, she took a Smith and Wesson .357-caliber Magnum from a basement desk drawer. She wrote a note “To Whom it May Concern.” In it, Kate said her husband knew nothing of the house repossession and told how to contact him at work. She taped the letter to the front door and left.

Kate drove to a nearby mall parking lot. She crawled into the back seat of her 1988 Oldsmobile. She aimed the gun behind her right ear and fired.

“The shame and embarrassment was too much for her,” Steve said. “She couldn’t face me or our minister - or anybody about it.”

What happened to Steve’s family could happen to “anybody, any time,” he said. “And it will happen to thousands more. You watch.”

A family farther down the Mississippi River, outside Memphis - where other riverboat casinos have mushroomed - has a similar story.

There, a 42-year-old father of two shot himself in the chest and died just before Christmas, after gambling away $100,000. His ex-wife sued Splash Casino in Tunica, Miss., for $50 million, saying casinos shouldn’t serve compulsive gamblers, just as bartenders aren’t supposed to serve people who drink too much.

“There is a fever out there in those casinos,” said Kate’s friend. “This stuff grabs you.

“You’re stuck out there” cruising on the river. “After you lost your money, do you really want to sit on deck? There are cash machines everywhere. You hear the bells and think someone hit. You’re thinking, `I might hit.’ So you go back in. You’re trapped.”

A spokesman for Argosy Riverside Casino in Riverside, which also owns the Alton Belle Casino in Alton, Ill., said the company posted signs advertising Gamblers Anonymous. He said it would be impossible to keep track of every gambler.

Steve wants no part of a lawsuit. He has enough worries. At night, his son is inconsolable. His daughter still hasn’t cried.

Any minute his attorney, John Rekowski of Collinsville, could call.

Rekowski has been negotiating with the bank to let Steve and his children keep the house.

Steve is sure he can make back payments with his salary as a boiler maker. His co-workers passed a hat and raised $2,000. And Rekowski set up a fund to help recover the estimated $9,000 to $12,000 needed in back mortgage payments and bank repossession fees.

“All I want is my house so my kids have a home,” Steve said. “I’m worried we won’t have a place to live tomorrow.”

It is a quiet home, in a quiet neighborhood about five miles from the bright lights and bells of the Casino Queen. The kitchen is a cozy mix of antiques and baskets and curio cabinets full of pigs.

Slung over the back of a chair hangs Kate’s black leather handbag. The day the coroner handed it over, Steve felt a little sneaky. He opened it almost thinking Kate might come flying around the corner.

“She always said, `That’s mine! Stay out,”’ he said.

Inside, he found her wallet, a brush, hairpins, some makeup and the checkbook. Many checks were made out to cash. Perhaps an indication that Kate tried furiously to win back the $6,000 to keep her house.

On Jan. 24, the last check was written, for $200.

A week later, Kate died with $2.58 in her wallet.

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Texas authorities are desperately searching for an 11-year-old girl who disappeared Thursday after she failed to get on her school bus — with the only trace of the child a “Hello Kitty” backpack found near a reservoir.

Investigators have identified a person of interest in the heartbreaking case that began last week when Audrii Cunningham never stepped onto her bus at the stop near her home around 7 a.m., the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

An Amber Alert was quickly blasted out in search of the 4-foot-1-inch girl with blond hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing black pants and a black hoodie while carrying a bright red “Hello Kitty”-style backpack.

A person of interest, Don Steven McDougal, 42, was taken into custody Friday on an unrelated charge of aggravated assault, state authorities said.

Audrii Cunningham never stepped onto her bus at the stop near her home around 7 a.m. when she disappeared Thursday.

Investigators suspect McDougal’s dark blue 2003 Chevy Suburban is involved in Audrii’s disappearance, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The state police also confirmed law enforcement discovered a small backpack near Lake Livingston Dam that likely belongs to the girl.

“We would like to have her come home, it’s not like her to just run off or disappear, she has a lot of loving family, she has so many people that love her and adore her,” her worried mother, Cassie Matthews, told KPRC the day after she disappeared.

Matthews said her daughter was currently living with her father and grandmother.

Investigators identified 42-year-old Don Steven McDougal of Livingston as one of the persons of interest involved in the disappearance of the 11-year-old.

“Hard is an understatement, this is the stuff you see on TV and you can only imagine what the family and the parents are going through and there’s not words for it,” she told the station.

“There is not one feeling you feel, it’s a roller coaster, you are broken, you are mad, you are empty and right now I am empty.

“She has so many opportunities ahead of her, and she deserves every right to be able to reach those opportunities.”

Investigators say the suspect's dark blue 2003 Chevy Suburban is involved in Cunningham's disappearance.

The sheriff’s office, which is getting help from multiple agencies, including the FBI, said the investigation into Audrii’s whereabouts is “active and ongoing.”

Authorities were on the lake Sunday as friends of the girl’s family prayed for her safe return.

“I know Audrii loved her grandmother, her father, her brother and family,” resident Chris Boothe said, according to KPRC . “We want Audrii home.”

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The Texas Department of Public Safety is offering a $7,000 reward for information tied to the case.

“Investigators continue to actively follow leads in this case, but we do not have any significant updates to report at this time,” the department said. “However, law enforcement remains thankful for all the tips being provided and for all the efforts of everyone involved in the search for Audrii.”

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Audrii Cunningham never stepped onto her bus at the stop near her home around 7 a.m. when she disappeared Thursday.


riverboat casino gone girl

Riverboat casinos going nowhere fast


When riverboat gambling returned to the Mississippi River in 1991, supporters spoke fondly of quaint excursions that would transport patrons back into Mark Twain’s world, providing a “family, Disney-like experience,” as one riverboat operator put it during a legislative hearing. More than a decade later, however, the reality of these watercraft of chance bears little resemblance to those early visions, most notably because only one of the 30 boats on the river still cruises on a regular basis.

Many of the floating palaces of fortune that cling to the Mississippi’s banks like mussels in the five states where they are legal still look like the elegant steamboats that plied the river in Twain’s time. The resemblance ends at the waterline, however, as many have no engines, and those that do rarely, if ever, fire them up and weigh anchor.

Others — the so-called “boats on moats” — don’t look anything like floating wedges of wedding cake, a description applied to the paddle-wheel steamboats of old. These “vessels” are large barges designed to float in pools adjacent to the river with casinos on their decks.

Not your ‘Maverick’ setting While not yet on a Vegas scale, many of the most successful riverboats are a far cry from the modest boats that set sail in 1991, boasting fancy restaurants and entertainment in addition to their gambling floors.

But they don’t look like rooms where Brett Maverick would feel at home, either. While poker tables and other table games exist, the vast majority of their floor space is taken up by jangling, buzzing and beeping slot machines.

Critics of the boats find the atmosphere depressing.

“This isn’t Vegas-style gaming where you at least have the illusion of grandeur,” says Kevin Horrigan, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial page columnist who has written critically about the riverboats. “This is just people in smoky rooms pulling handles.”

But the boats’ owners say the naysayers are letting their prejudices cloud their vision.

“It’s fun, it’s reasonably priced — our average customer spends less than $50 — they get good food and maybe a show. They just relax,” said Bernard Goldstein, chairman and CEO of Isle of Capri Casinos of Biloxi, Miss., which operates 12 casinos, most of them riverboats.

The lone gambling boat still plying the big river is the Mississippi Belle II in Clinton, Iowa, which sails from 1 to 3 p.m. each weekday during the cruising season from mid-May through mid-October.

‘Everyone else has gone dockside’ “As far as I know everyone else has gone dockside,” said Ken Bonnet, president of the company that runs the boat. “We are in the process of evaluating the feasibility of building a new facility. If that’s economically feasible, we may get away from cruising as well.”

Bonnet said his boat’s situation is unique among Mississippi operators because it receives busloads of gambling tourists from the western suburbs of Chicago and elsewhere through a contract with a tour operator.

“They are the ones who like to cruise,” he said of the tourists. “Most of the people who live closer to the water have no interest in it.”

Riverboat operators say it became clear almost as soon as the first gambling cruise left the dock that their demise was in the cards.

“When it got started, the gambling was supposed to be penny ante and it was the cruising experience that was the thing,” said Goldstein, the casino executive. “But the bettors didn’t like cruising. When they wanted to get on, they wanted to get on, and when they wanted to get off, they wanted to get off.”

Goldstein said that point was driven home when his company put two licensed riverboats on Lake Charles in Louisiana to take full advantage of a now-repealed provision of the state law requiring gambling vessels to cruise for two hours for every two hours they were open at the dock.

‘You'd see a big rush down the dock’ “When the one boat came back and the other was getting ready to leave, you’d see a big rush down the dock from the departing boat to get on the other one,” he said.

Legislators in the five Mississippi River states where riverboat gambling is legal — Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri — have accommodated the operators by removing cruising requirements from laws authorizing riverboat gambling. Iowa became the last state to do so this year, prompting its riverboats — except for the Mississippi Belle — to quickly drop anchor.

While the riverboat operators say the change was market-driven, gambling opponents such as Tom Gray, executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, say the landward crawl was part of the plan from the beginning.

“This thing (gambling) slithered out of the water and onto the land faster than anyone could ever track,” said Gray, a retired Methodist minister. “The only way they could sell this was quaint riverboats and entertainment. The Midwest states never would have bought hard-core Las Vegas-style casinos.”

But Sebastian Sinclair, a gaming analyst with Christiansen Capital Advisers, said that while the riverboat operators undoubtedly hoped that they would have the opportunity to expand their operations onto the land, it would have been foolish to make plans based on that eventuality.

“That’s your hope, but if you’re a smart businessman you never go into it assuming that you’ll have an opportunity to expand your operations,” he said. “It also can go the other way. You go in assuming they’re going to issue 10 licenses, but then they issue 10 more. Or the state may decide to raise your taxes, like they did in Illinois. And there’s always the issue of what may happen in a neighboring state that could affect your business.”

Politics the difficult part “That’s one of the fascinating things about this business. It’s not like making widgets. The economics of this industry are not that difficult, but the politics are.”

The economics are problematic for governments that have turned to gambling in search of new tax revenue without raising citizens’ taxes.

As the Mississippi Belle’s reliance on the busloads of tourists demonstrates, many assumptions about riverboat gambling — including the notion that it would prove to be a popular tourist attraction — haven’t held water.

“The campaign was sold on the idea of quaint little boats going up and down the river, which would be a tourist attraction, but that isn’t what we got,” said Horrigan, the Post-Dispatch editorial writer. “Three-quarters of the money comes from local people, and most of that is cannibalized from other businesses, according to studies I’ve seen.”

Operators of the gambling boats agree that many of the boats along the river do cater mainly to locals, but they dispute the notion that they are a drag on the economy, noting that they have created thousands of jobs in addition to generating new tax revenue.

While the economics of the riverboats are open to debate, advocates on both sides of the issue agree that political gamesmanship is the reason that the five states that allow riverboat gambling have refused — with a single exception for the city of New Orleans — to permit land-based casino gambling. That gives the legislators the ability to say they did not vote for expanded gambling, they say.

“Maybe if it’s on the water, the water floats the sin away,” said Goldstein, the casino executive.

‘A stupid law’ “It’s a stupid law,” said Horrigan, referring to the removal of a cruising requirement in his state’s gambling act. “Companies come in and dig a huge trench, put a barge in it, build a casino and then run a pipe from the river and fill up the moat with water. It’s transparent, and it’s not what the people of Missouri thought they were getting.”

The rewritten laws have created some absurdities for those in the riverboat gambling business.

Goldstein said that his company still has to have a licensed captain on board and conduct man-overboard drills on its riverboats in Louisiana, even though they haven’t left the dock in more than a year.

But he said that he believes legislatures will eventually loosen the restrictions that require the riverboat operators to maintain their maritime façade.

“You can say it’s silly, but I call it evolvement,” he said. “Heck, I thought everyone (on the gambling cruises) would be out on the decks, watching the locks and learning about the river. I’ve evolved too.”


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